LAHORE: Australia’s Steve Smith said Saturday that close catching is a “real challenge” on low-bounce pitches after he spilled a crucial catch in the second Test drawn with Pakistan in Karachi.
The 32-year-old is considered one of the safest pair of hands in the game with 137 catches in 84 Tests, and his drop off Abdullah Shafique’s bat on the fourth day of the Test became a major talking point.
Pakistani opener Shafique went on to score 96 to supplement skipper Babar Azam in a stand of 228 for the third wicket.
Azam racked up a match-saving 196 while Mohammad Rizwan hit 104 not out as Pakistan batted all but 26 minutes on the last two days to score 443-7 in 171.4 overs to ensure a draw.
That left the three-match series tied at 0-0 with the third and final Test starting in Lahore on Monday. The first Test in Rawalpindi also ended in a draw.
Smith said low-bounce pitches made catching tougher.
“It’s been a real challenge,” Smith said. “I’ve never stood as close to the bat in my life, in any conditions.
“There’s just been no bounce in the wickets, so part of our plan is to ensure the ball carries as much as possible.”
Smith had also described the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium pitch as “benign and dead” after it produced 1,187 runs for the loss of just 14 wickets over five days.
The pitch was later rated “below average” by International Cricket Council referee Ranjan Madugalle.
“It’s been difficult, and difficult to adjust but we’re working on that at training, we’re doing very close nicks that are coming very low and fast and that’s really all you can do.
“Just fingers crossed that they stick.” Smith praised Azam’s 10-hour, seven-minute knock as “exceptional.”
“I thought he played our spinners so well ... Everything seemed to get the middle of the bat until the one that he (Azam) got out on.”
Spinner Nathan Lyon triggered a mini-collapse for Pakistan by grabbing three wickets but the South Asians went on to save the match in the mandatory overs.